While it’s amazing to travel outside your country to see new things, sometimes you need to take a day trip in your home town. I’ve been itching to get back into my landscape photography, so when the opportunity came to take a day trip to Brighton and Half Moon Bay on the public holiday, I jumped at the chance.
After attending a dawn service on Anzac Day, it was into the car with my tripod, Nikon D750 and 10 stop Neutral Density Filter to try out daytime long exposures. While I’ve used graduated neutral density filters for some time, I only bought a full ND filter last year for my trip to Vietnam, and I’m still learning how to use it.
Even though it was an overcast day, it still provided great opportunities for testing out the filter. Flat daylight at the beach is a challenge, but I thought I’d meander my way down the coast and try it out. I’ve put some tips for photographing Brighton and Half Moon Bay at the end of the article.
Photographing Brighton Bathing Boxes
First stop was the famous Brighton Bathing Boxes, an iconic landmark of Melbourne. Although I’ve been in Melbourne for four years, I don’t often get the chance to go south side. I got there a little before 9am and thought it was pretty quiet… until the crowds descended. While my long exposures helped blur most people out of the scene, long exposures don’t erase people who pose for photos at every single bathing box.
I waited about 10 minutes to take this 30″ exposure as a group of young women posed for selfies over, and over, and over…
Note to self – go back to Brighton on a cold winter sunrise at 5am, where hopefully no one will be taking selfies!
By that time I was losing my patience, and I’m a pretty patient person, so I trundled down to the end of the beach where there were some lovely rocks and a flock of seagulls minding their own business. I got these shots, which are my favourite from the day – I don’t mind the movement of the birds at all.
Brighton Bathing Boxes and the Melbourne CBD – 30 sec at f/16 at 40mm on Nikon D750 and 24-70mm f/2.8 with 10 stop ND Filter
Photographing Half Moon Bay
Further down the coast (carefully avoiding the flocks of MAMILs on the road), is Half Moon Bay’s striking landscape of spectacular yellow cliffs, and the shipwreck of the HMVS Cerberus. It’s nice to take a little hike around the cliffs, and I think the water would really sparkle on a clear day.
Down at the beach and parking lot, there’s a kiosk and one of the cleanest public toilets I’ve been in. Parking starts from $5.50 an hour. Most of the visitors are launching fishing boats or kayaking around the shipwreck.
While there are some interesting photography angles from the dock, I prefer stability of the concrete as you get the vibrations from every man and his dog if they walk past on the wooden pier. I tried to go for a minimalist style of photography with the rusty ship on the water, but I want to go back with a telephoto lens to get closer shots of the shipwreck.
It seemed like seagulls were the theme for the day. I’ve intentionally gone for a cold colour treatment on a lot of these long exposures, as we’re heading into winter. You don’t always have to photograph the beach on a sunny day – sometimes it’s good to go for the opposite feeling.
What was nice about this photography day trip was remembering that you can take landscape photos in all conditions – it doesn’t have to be sunny or a special time of day. It felt so good to be photographing landscapes again. Brighton and Half Moon Bay are beautiful places for practicing landscape photography, so be sure to check them out if you’re in Melbourne.
Tips for photographing Brighton and Half Moon Bay
- Take a telephoto – the compression and distance would be useful especially when photographing the bathing boxes across the water or the shipwreck
- Go during off-peak times to avoid the crowds at the Bathing Boxes
- If you’re going to do commercial photography you’ll need a permit from council and/or Parks Victoria
- Try to think outside the box (no pun intended) about how you can shoot these well-photographed destinations
- Take graduated ND filters if you’re doing any sunset/sunrise shooting and an ND filter for daytime
- Be careful around the cliffs and slippery rocks for your own safety